Tuesday, 18 September 2012


Someone was asking me about my leftover soups yesterday.  Now the weather is a little chillier, especially mornings and evenings, and the days are getting shorter while the nights are getting longer, it seems that there's this primal urge to create warming, filling, wholesome soupy/casseroley things that fill the cracks with glowing goodness and satisfy more than mere hunger (although they do a good job with that too).

This is what I do. 
I take a look at what I have and select.  I find some things are not suitable - or I don't fancy putting them together.  Some stuff can carry over into the new week's planning.  That doesn't get used.  There's always an onion or two.
Then I look at what I have in the cupboard that will go with the veg.  It might be lentils, it might be pulses (butter beans make a wonderfully velvety soup, I find), it is more than likely to be chopped tomatoes . . .

I chop the onion and virtually dry fry it in the titchiest bit of oil until soft and colouring - on a very low heat.  Then I add the garlic and any spices used. 

While that's doing, I peel and chop the veg and prepare the stock, marigold for choice because then DD can share the soup.  I then add the peeled and chopped veg to the onion and carry on gently dry frying to 'release the flavour'.  I know that sounds a bit pretentious but I love the moment when the veg realise that they are starting to cook and release a delicious aroma.   Then in goes the liquid.  If I'm using chopped tomatoes or passata, I usually add some marigold powder.  I add a little salt and, usually, plenty of ground black pepper.  Lentils and canned pulses go in at this point too.  It all comes to a boil and I cover the pan and let it simmer away gently until everything is soft and mushy and delicious.

Then I take a rain check.  Sometimes it tasted great just the way it is, like a very modified minestrone.  Sometimes I fancy a rough mash so it's lumpy.  Sometimes I zizz it with the stick blender and then push it through a sieve (or use my mouli thingy).  It doesn't take long, there's little waste and the texture of the end product is wonderfully smooth.

Finally I check the seasoning again and Bob's your uncle!

Sometimes I roast the veg - chop it all up and mix it with a very little oil, the minimum you can get away with, some seasonings and a couple of peeled, whole garlic cloves.  Shove it all into a roasting dish and roast until there are a few black bits and there's that wonderful roasted smell wafting around the kitchen.  Then I add the liquid and proceed as above.

And if you have enough leftover soup already in the freezer for that week, you could do a curry instead!

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